The Chicago Blackhawks are the best team left in the NHL playoffs
"Best" is defined as "better than all others in quality or value" (1)
BOP is shared, because Con must argue for a team he/she feels is better than Chicago, who is left: NYR, Washington, Montreal, TB, Anaheim, Calgary, or Minnesota. Con must reveal this team in the first round.
First round is acceptance only.
Been wanting to take part in an NHL debate for some time now, so thanks for starting this. Unfortunately for me, the Canucks are my team, and I could probably go on for hours about them, but I don't think it'd be smart to consider the Canucks better than the Hawks, even though we beat you guys 2/3 games this season and outscored you 10-8 ;)
But all joking aside, my Canucks got #rekt by the Flames somehow, and although it was a great series, I was left crying myself to sleep night after night. And as much as I'd love to see the Flames get destroyed by the Ducks, Kesler is with them and if he wins the cup I probably will just lie down and die.
Okay actually all joking aside... I figured I'd just have to show some teams that have had a better regular seasons (six teams) or higher differential (Lightning, Blues and Rangers), but considering you want your opponent to pick one team to compare to the Hawks, I'll pick the New York Rangers. Not necessarily because they were awarded the cursed Presidents' Trophy, although that does play a factor, but because of the record between the Rangers and Hawks this year, as well as plenty of other factors. It's unfortunate they only played two games this year, but we'll work with those.
I'm assuming we'll only use this season? I think that'd be most reasonable, sticking to the most current rosters. Or can we go back a certain number of years? I'm sure if we do that you can use your cup(s) for a big boost but that'll be up to you to decide if we can only refer to this season or not. I also guess the playoffs aren't helping my argument that well but I'll figure something out.
Either way, this has been my incredibly long acceptance round, so I'm looking forward to a good debate.
Let's see if the Rangers can theoretically defeat the Blackhawks.
I'm actually a Canucks fan too, but I still said before the playoffs it'd be the Hawks winning. Still, I thought they'd beat the Flames. Anyways, it will be current rosters, but anything else can be cited (of course there are rebuttals if something that happened is no longer relevant).
Corsi for (CF): A stat which accounts for all shot attempts at the other team’s net.
Corsi against (CA): A stat which accounts for all shot attempts at your team’s net.Corsi for percentage: 100*CF/(CF+CA)
The Blackhawks are a superior puck possession team to the Rangers and that is essential to win.
Although puck possession itself cannot be measured directly, statistics such as corsi give one a good idea of how well a team controls the puck, because if you’re out-shooting your opponent you probably have the puck more. During the regular season the Hawks had the 2nd best 5 on 5 corsi for percentage in the league, compared to the Rangers having the 20th best. (1) The Hawks have also consistently finished highly in this statistic. Overall, that rating was composed of the Hawks’ 2nd best in the league corsi for (compared to NYR’s 9th) and 12 best league corsi against (compared to NYR’s 23rd). (2, 3) Even though their strategy is offensively oriented, their amazing possession allowed them to be tied for the least scored on team in the league. (4) One can also observe the Hawks’ puck possession through their strategies. The Hawks’ defenseman control the puck well, while they allow their forwards to get into position to carry the puck in or dump it to a location where their teammates should get their first. (5) The reason the Hawks are able to often pull off successful dump and chase plays, is not only because of their speed, but also their ability to take advantage of potentially flat footed defenseman who will either be beat to the puck or with turn it over with 2 forecheckers. (5) Finally, once they gain the zone they are hard to to take off the puck. The Hawks stretch out around the offensive zone allowing their forwards numerous passing options, while they find a chance on net.
Overall, puck possession is critical because it allows you to generate more scoring chances than your opponent and recently, most Cup winners have had high corsi ratings. (1) Also, the Rangers, who were out shot heavily throughout most of the finals against the Kings last year, faced several shots and the Rangers had trouble gaining the zone.
Therefore, due to their strong puck possession play the Blackhawks are a superior team to the Rangers.
C2-Hawks’ Experience & Playoff Performance
The Blackhawks are a proven playoff team with many proven players, more so than the Rangers.
The Hawks’ team playoff experience speaks for itself, as since 2009, they have won two Stanley Cups and made four conference final appearances (and since this debate was started on May 4th) are poised to make another one. The Rangers have a decent playoff resume since 2011, making one Stanley Cup appearance and two conference final appearances, however, it does not compare to the Hawks’. The Hawks also have plenty of playoff performers. This playoff run has already seen players such as Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews, and Marian Hossa score more points per game than they did in the regular season. Historically too their players have been playoff performers. Kane is point per game in his career in the playoffs and Toews has become known for clutch playoff goals. Also, there is the potential to see a player like power forward Bryan Bickell make a bigger impact in the 3rd and 4th round of the playoffs, much like he did for them in 2013 and 2014. However, looking at the Rangers playoff stats so far, their top players have not exceeded expectations. Rick Nash (who led the Rangers in points this season) is getting points at a much slower rate, and has only scored 1 goal (compared to his 42 in the season) this playoff run so far. (6, 7) Some of their other top forwards, such as Derick Brassard, Derek Stepan, Martin St. Louis, and especially Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello are also not proving to be like many of the forwards on the Hawks who exceed expectations come playoff time, (6)
Having experience and performing better in the playoffs than in the regular season is essential to winning the Cup, as you’re more adapted to succeed in the more tight environment and obviously will be able to score more if your players are playoff performers.
For this reason, the Hawks are a better playoff team than the Rangers.
C3-Hawks’ Forward Depth
The Blackhawks have much better depth up front than the Rangers, which is essential to success in the playoffs.
Historically, many teams that rely too much on one line for offense lose in the playoffs as every team that has won recently has had depth, yet teams that had one really talented line or a couple really talented players and questionable depth, such as Anaheim (Getzlaf & Perry, although this might not apply anymore), West Coast Express Era in Vancouver (Naslund & Bertuzzi), modern day Pittsburgh (Crosby & Malkin), don’t win the Cup. Yet teams like LA, Chicago, and Boston were complimented for their depth. This years Hawks are no different, especially compared to the Rangers. The Kings highlighted the importance of a strong center core last year with Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Jarret Stoll, and Mike Richards. This is due to centers leading the offense in the offensive zone and having the most defensive duties from the forwards. Chicago’s center core fits the bill with Jonathan Toews (a Selke Trophy winners [the trophy for best defensive forward] and proven playoff performer), Brad Richards (a two way veteran center, with offensive abilities), Antoine Vermette (a two way center, who was the 1st line center in Arizona before being traded), and Marcus Kruger (another two way center). (8) The Rangers are severely out-matched down the middle, with Derick Brassard, Derek Stepan, Kevin Hayes, and Dominic Moore, none of whom have shown impressive playoff stats so far nor any close to being considered Selke Trophy Winners. (9) The Hawks are also stronger on the wings as they have consistent offense (plus strong two way game) from players such as Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, and Brandon Saad. However, the Rangers relied a lot on wingers such as Rick Nash, who I’ve already shown haven’t been scoring as much in the playoffs.
One of the reason their players aren’t scoring as much, is because of the importance of depth so other coaches cannot focus entirely on one line or one player from the other team. This is why (along with having more scoring options) depth up front is important, and why the Blackhawks are superior to the Rangers.
I apologise in advance for this stupid formatting, it seriously just doesn't want to work.
Thanks, RoyalFlush. I'll give it to you, the Hawks are looking pretty good right now. I actually wasn't expecting a well thought out argument backed with a plethora of facts, so thanks for making this a serious debate, I'm looking forward to it.
(If not specified, this will all be referring to 5-on-5)
It's kind of hard to argue against facts, so I'm sure our respective rebuttals will be quite short. However, if we look at Fenwick (shots on goal + shots that missed the net), we will see that although Chicago did get more shots off than the Rangers, they missed the net more. Now what's something you hear the coaches yell all the time? "Hit the net!" Doing some quick math, we can see that the Hawks missed the net a total of 718 times, whereas the Rangers missed 704 times . And while shorthanded, the Rangers were able to get off nearly double the shots as the Hawks . This shows that even while the Rangers are down a man, they're able to play hard and fight back, which also led to a league-tying-high 9 goals while shorthanded, compared to the Hawks' measly two. Back to 5-on-5, getting shots off is great and all, but it only matters if they can get the puck past the defence and to the net. Sure, 14 times doesn't look like very much, but that's fourteen more chances that the Rangers had than the Hawks. Which will lead me to my next point...
Goals For (GF)
The Rangers had the highest GF in the entire league (while 5-on-5) with 179, which was nearly thirty more than the Hawks, who ended in 13th place with 150 . Could this be a result of hitting the net a few more times? Or possibly just being better shots overall than the Hawks, with an entire 2% better shot percentage than Chicago, who finished third last in the league, compared to the Rangers finishing third overall. So yes, the Hawks got some more shots off, which could very well lead to a point in puck possession, however what matters in this game? Goals. You could carry the puck and dance around the other team for half the game, but if you can't hit the back of the net, that's just not good enough. Generating scoring chances is good, I agree, however when those chances stay just that - chances - you end up, well, not being better than the other team. The Rangers' ability to capitalize on their shots two percent (which is a lot) more than Chicago gives them a huge edge; the team as a whole is able to hit the back of the net much more.
I guess before I forget, I might as well bring up the President's Trophy. We all know that this is awarded for finishing the regular season with the most points, and the Rangers won it . Eleven points ahead of Chicago, who finished the season in seventh place, the Rangers won an entire ten games in regulation and overtime (ROW) more than Chicago. The Rangers managed to get 252 goals this season, finishing third in the league, compared to Chicago's 229, 23 less than NYR, which landed Chicago in 16th place for scoring. Although Chicago allowed only three less goals than the Rangers, the +/- favors New York, +60 for NYR and +40 for Chicago. What's important in this game again? Being able to score! I guess I could also add that the Rangers won five of their last six games in April, while the Blackhawks only won two of the last six in April. New York ended the regular season on a much better note.
One important thing that contributes to the Rangers being an overall better team than the Blackhawks is the fact that more of the Rangers' players are getting points than the Blackhawks' players. The Rangers are rolling their four lines better than the Hawks. Both teams have ten players that finished with ten or more goals this season, however the Rangers have many players that are able to make plays over the Hawks, instead of relying on the top two lines, with fifteen of their players having twenty points or more , while Chicago only has eleven . This, combined with the fact that NYR have two players who played more than half the season with a negative rating while the Hawks have four, goes to show the Rangers are able to roll all four lines better than the Hawks. Instead of relying on a select few guys to make plays and score, although Rick Nash finished third in the league with goals , the points and plays and goals (three more NYR players scoring than Hawks players) are spread out over all four lines. This, I think is fair to say, negates the idea that the Hawks have better depth than the Rangers.
Quickly touching on playoff experience, the Hawks have performed better than the Rangers in the past, although most recently, the Rangers did make it to the finals. And looking at the current playoffs, the teams that these two teams have to face plays a role in all of this. The Rangers were up against the Penguins, and are now up against the Capitals, both teams having arguably the best two players in the league, as well as a lot of support to back them up. The Rangers were able to beat the Penguins, somewhat recent cup winners, a team known to be overall good performers, in five games. And they're currently up against the Capitals (series was 1-1 as of the creation/acceptance of this debate), another team known for great overall performance as well as playoff performance. So as of the creation of this debate, both the Rangers and Hawks had a 6-2 Win/Loss record in the playoffs. The thing I think makes a difference is that the Hawks were up against teams who usually have very little playoff experience. Nashville and Minnesota have only made the playoffs five times total since 2010, whereas Pittsburgh has made the playoffs every single time since 2010, as well as advancing quite far, and Washington only missed the playoffs once. I'm sure we both agree that so far, the Rangers have faced tougher, more experienced teams than the Hawks, yet they (at the time of the creation of this debate) share the same W/L record. I think I'll get more into the current playoffs next round if necessary, but from the teams the Rangers and Hawks are up against, the Rangers have had a much harder treck (each game against the Pens only being decided by one goal shows what kind of difficulty level that is), yet still have the same W/L record as the Hawks, who are up against teams who don't make the playoffs as regularly and haven't got very far at all.
Going back to shorthanded stats, taken from here , NYR dominated practically every category. The only two categories that Chicago beat the Rangers in was Save Percentage, by a mere 1.3%, and Defensive Zone Faceoffs, by a mere 3%. Every other category, while down a man, the Rangers came out on top. Seven more goals, four less goals against, thirty-five more shots and a 7% better shot percentage. Chicago is in the bottom five in the league for six of all categories. The Rangers are in the top five nineteen times, including first in the league ten of those times. Looking at the stats, the Rangers completely dominated the Blackhawks when it came to being a man down.
The Hawks have a good top line, and a pretty decent 2nd line. However it looks like the Rangers are overall more able to roll all four lines, generating points and goals for more players. This is shown (from what I mentioned before) by the three more Rangers' players with goals, and the four more rangers players with 20+ points.
The two games the Rangers and Hawks played against each other this season were both decided by one goal (the only goal of the game), so they were very close. The Rangers managed one more shot on goal than the Hawks.
These two teams were incredibly close in the regular season, and the two games that they played against each other were practically tied. However the one more shot from the Rangers (I think) gives the Rangers that very, very, slight edge, regarding the games played against each other. I'd love to see these two teams in the finals.
Thanks for a good first round, kind of unfortunate there isn't more than three :(
Con argues that the Hawks missed the net more than the Rangers. That is true, but the Hawks also had more shooting attempts than the Rangers. Using Fenwick to measure shooting attempts (which is the same as corsi, except it doesn’t account for blocked shots), to stay consistent, the Hawks hit the net 2182 out of 2900 attempts, or 75.2% of the time. (1) Meanwhile, the Rangers hit the net 2025 out of 2729 attempts, or 74.2% of the time. (1) The difference is fairly minor, but it still favours the Hawks of hitting the net at higher rate. Therefore, the Hawks were not only able to the out-shoot the Rangers, but also hit the net at a higher rate.
Con also argues that the Rangers got more shorthanded goals and had more shots on the penalty kill. Although the Rangers had a more successful penalty kill, the Blackhawks were able to both draw more penalties and take less penalties than the Rangers. (2) This is critical in the playoffs when, in general, there are less penalties called and one powerplay can make a huge difference, even if not generating a goal, in a momentum swing, so discipline can come through.
These points go together, so I’ll address them together. Con cites how the Rangers had more depth goal scoring throughout the season (which also led to more goals). That is true, however, a lot of the times a team’s depth doesn’t show up until the playoffs. No better example of this than last year’s Cup champions, the LA Kings. With the exception of Kopitar with 70 points, no one on that team had over 50 points. (6) Observing the Hawks lineup, they have gotten plenty of goal scoring from their top 2 lines already, with Toews and Kane playing on separate lines, with the rest of their linemates chipping in, not only on the point sheet, but through other things such as Hossa’s two way play or Bickell’s physicality. Then there is their 3rd line, which is interesting, as it was just formed this playoff run, and could be a major factor. It includes Sharp, Vermette, and Teuvo Teravainen. Sharp has performed very well this playoff run and historically has proved to be a solid player, scoring 78 points last season. However, he suffered from injuries and lackluster play this season which was a big factor in the Hawks not scoring as much, but he is clearly showing up now. Vermette is also interesting as he didn’t even become a Blackhawk until the Trade Deadline when he was traded from the Arizona Coyotes. He had trouble fitting into the Hawks system when he came, but he was an effective player in Arizona, centering their first line. (7) Finally, is the 4th line containing physical grinder Andrew Desjardins, two way center Marcus Kruger, and winger Andrew Shaw. Shaw has been producing well this playoff run (although many of his points most likely came from the powerplay). It is clear, that when it actually counts, the Blackhawks are a very deep team that can score. However, the Rangers have not seen many players spike up in production and in fact, many have seen their production decline in the playoffs (keep in mind the Rangers have gotten a couple higher scoring games since this debate was created). (8) Therefore, the Hawks are a much deeper team and a bigger offensive threat during the playoffs than the Rangers, even if regular season stats don’t suggest that.
Con mentions how the Rangers won the President’s Trophy and came into the playoffs with a stronger record. However, the President’s Trophy doesn’t necessarily mean anything when it comes to playoff performance. Since the lockout season in 2004/05 only two President’s Trophy winners have won the Cup (the Hawks being one of them). (3) In fact, certain teams such as the LA Kings for the past 3 years who would always have relatively weak regular seasons and then turn it on for the playoffs, making it to the Conference Finals all 3 years and winning 2 cups. The Blackhawks aren’t different as they’ve proved recently. Despite finishing only 3rd in their division this year and last year, they were still able to make it to the Conference Finals last year and are poised to again this year (technically they haven’t eliminated the Wild yet). This can be seen from players like Kane and Toews seeing their point totals spike up come playoff time, year after year, as pointed out last round. The reason for this, is because teams may not always put a full effort in during the regular season, as they are “saving” for the playoffs. As for the record going into the playoffs, the Hawks were dealing with the injury to Kane, but any record going in is meaningless now as they’re in the 2nd round. Overall, the President’s Trophy is meaningless once the playoffs start and teams that have weaker regular seasons can have amazing playoff runs.
Con cites how last year the Rangers were able to get further than the Blackhawks. However, one can easily argue that the Hawks could have went just as far in the same position. Last year was the Kings’ year and many would agree that they would have defeated any team in their path. The Hawks made it as far as they could until facing the Kings, as did the Rangers. However, the Hawks/Kings series was really close, having to be decided in game 7 OT. The Rangers, on the other hand, only managed one win against the Kings and were often outshot and outplayed badly. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume the Hawks would have went to the Cup Finals too in the Rangers' situation.
At this point, it is too early to determine much from the second round series, so I’ll focus on the first round series. Con mentions how the Penguins are a much more experienced team than the Predators. However, this is not the same Penguins team that dominated the league for years. They were suffering major injuries on top defenseman Kris Letang and other D-Man, Christian Ehrhoff, Olli Maatta, and Derrick Pouliot. Adding to the broken blue line was not having defenseman Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik who moved on after last season. Veteran winger Pascal Dupuis was also injured. Plus, they finished 8th in the Eastern Conference this season. Not to mention, elite player Evgeni Malkin had 0 points the whole series. (4, 5) This Penguins team clearly had problems and was not what it used to be.
I've already addressed shorthanded goals and shots. The same arguments can be used, that the Blackhawks are more discipline and the huge difference that will make. However, I'd also like to point out even if the Blackhawks get scored on more on shorthanded, they allow less goals overall as already shown throughout the debate.
Just to address one more thing, the Hawks/Rangers season games were too close to determine much from and were just 2 games of a long 82 game season for both these teams.
So, in conclusion, due to the Blackhawks' dominant possession game, their playoff performers that the Rangers don't have, and depth that also really shows up in the playoffs, the Blackhawks are a better team than the Rangers.
There's no arguing against stats, but there's one thing regarding shots and corsi and all this that I want to point out - looking at all-around stats (5 on 5, 5 on 4, 4 on 5, 4 on 4) , as well as 5-on-5, yes, the Hawks got more shots off, which does help the possession statistic, they only hit the net 2775 of 5107 times , which is 54.33%, whereas the rangers hit the net 2580 of 4618 attempts. The numbers are very similar for 5-on-5. Yes, the Hawks got more shots off, and yes, the Hawks hit the net more, however the rangers were able to hit the net 55.87% of the time (overall), compared to the Hawks 54.33%. A percent and a half more than the Hawks, not too sure where you got that 75% number.
So to conclude, the Hawks out shot the Rangers, but the Rangers were actually able to hit the net at a higher rate.
POWER PLAY/PENALTY KILL
Yes, the Rangers were penalized more and didn't draw as many penalties, however this can be the Referee's faults, as we all know how easily the Refs can change the game. I obviously won't go through every penalty called against the Rangers and say why they're bullcrap, but the penalty stats are left in the Refs hands, and face it, the refs don't make the best calls and is really all up to the ref's discretion as to what they consider a penalty or not. I don't think it's necessarily fair to say "the refs decided to call more penalties against the Rangers than the hawks, therefore the Rangers are a worse team."
However, using your FoxSports link , the Rangers killed more penalties than the Hawks (I guess kind of obvious, considering they took more), but let's see the kind of penalties they took - One suspension was handed out to the rangers, and Two to the Hawks , giving the impression that the Hawks were the less disciplined team (by a small margin, but still one more suspension, 3 more total games suspended). And considering you like bringing up the playoffs, here's an easy-to-maneuver website  for box scores of all games. So far (up to May 4th) in the playoffs, Chicago only drew more penalties than the other team once, were penalized more 3 times, and got the same amount 4. The Rangers were never penalized more than the other team, and drew more penalties four times, of 7 games. So as for penalties, the Rangers (in the playoffs) have been able to draw more penalties and take less than the opposing team, and in comparison to Chicago, they took less and drew more. If you think it's the playoffs that matter for penalties, then the Rangers have dominated in this category.
Unfortunately I'm unable to find stats as of a certain date, but I want to do some quick math and hopefully some kind of point will present itself in the process. The Hawks so far have totalled 87 points, whereas the Rangers have 70. Yes, the Hawks have more points, but I'll touch on that in my next paragraph. 18 players from each team scored, so luckily for us, that's a bonus to work with when we're dealing with math. The average point per player (if all lines were "equal") for the Hawks should be 4.8, and 3.9 for the Rangers. The closer more players are to this number, the more "equal" each line is, and instead of relying on the top five guys on the team (the Hawks top five guys have 13, 11, 10, 9, and 8 points, whereas the Rangers have 8, 8, 7, 6, and 5 points... not as spread apart), each line is able to generate equally as many scoring opportunities (and capitalize on them). How many guys on the Hawks' have 4.8 (let's say 5) points? Two. Eleven guys are below that average , giving the impression that there are a distinct few guys that are the playmakers on that team. However that's much different with the Rangers - Six guys have 3.9 (let's say 4) points, and only seven have less than that . Nine are within one point of that average for the Rangers, with the #1 guy having only 4 more points. Only five are within the one point average on the Hawks', with the #1 guy having eight points more. The numbers don't lie, and the numbers tell us that between the Hawks and the Rangers, the Blackhawks have a more distinctive few guys who make plays than the Rangers, who roll the four lines quite well, and don't rely on a couple guys.
The Rangers and Hawks faced two very different sets of goalies. Something that I always pay attention to is the goals scored per game (duh), but the total amount. Only two of eight games the Rangers played (until May 4th) had more than three total goals scored. Each game was decided by one goal, supporting the idea that both goalies were on top of their games. Multi-goal games go to show that the goalies aren't the best, and therefore are easier to score on, which adds up to more points, hence why the Hawks have more points than the Rangers. Almost two times as many goals were scored in the Hawks' first eight games than the Rangers, as well as the Hawks' being blown out by the Predators twice, 6-2 and 5-2. Every single game totalled five goals or more, supporting the idea that every goalie (including the Hawks') was not playing well...
Which leads me to talk about the Blackhawk's goalie(s) and the Rangers' goalie, as well as the two teams' goalies each was up against in the first two rounds. First let's talk about the goalies our guys were up against, and who better to start with than Braden Holtby for the Washington Capitals . Holtby faced the most shots and made the most saves in both the regular season and the playoffs. In the playoffs, he finished 2nd in the league with a .944 save percentage as well as 3rd in the league with a very little 1.71 goals against average. To say the Rangers were up against a good goalie would be an understatement. As well as the 2nd best in the league, the Rangers faced Marc-Andre Fleury , the 6th best in the league with a .927 save percentage, as well as a 2.12 goals against average, placing him in 7th. Both goalies the Rangers were up against were in the top ten in the league in the playoffs for save percentage and goals against average, and Holtby was top five in the league in every category.
Now when we look at the two goalies the Hawks were up against, we see an entirely different couple of guys. Pekka Rinne , who had a great regular season and was arguably the main reason the Predators even made the playoffs, collapsed in the playoffs, and had a measly .909 save percentage, and 2.68 goals against average, finishing 15th and 16th in the league. Devan Dubnyk  wasn't much better and shared a pretty similar, great regular season - horrible post season, situation. With only a .908 save percentage, finishing just after Rinne at 16th, and a 2.53 goals against average, at 13th, we can see a pretty big difference in the goalies that both our teams faced in the playoffs. Sure, points matter, but does it really when we're up against two sets of entirely different goalies?
And now that brings us to our teams respective goalies. Lundqvist tied Holtby for 2nd in the league in the playoffs with a .944 save percentage . Compare that to Crawford's .916  or Darling's .936 . As well as a far superior save percentage and goals against average (with a minuscule 1.60 per game, 2nd again in the league), Lundqvist let in a total of 20 goals. Crawford allowed 16 goals and Darling 11, for a total of 27 goals, and keep in mind that these were goals made by teams that are not known for high scoring games. I'd say it's safe to say that the better goalie was the Rangers'.
Although I do see that the Penguins played worse this year (does not necessarily mean they were a bad team, just that others were better), they were still a tough team to play against, whether or not other teams performed a bit better.
Regarding the Hawks allowing less goals overall... they allowed three less. Three. Yes, they allowed less goals, however this number is so minuscule and the amount of more goals the Rangers scored pushes this tiny number away to be next to meaningless.
And one final thing I'd like to add - instead of comparing the teams the Rangers and Hawks beat, let's just see how well they played against each other recently. As you can see here , the last few years the Rangers and Blackhawks played each other, the Rangers won nine times, and the Hawks only won five. Would it be fair to say, looking at this statistic, that the team who won almost twice as many games is better?
Again, I want to point out that the resolution of this debate is not "The Hawks are a better performing team in the playoffs," but "The best team left in the playoffs." I think a team that is better all-around, pre-season included, would be considered a "better" team. My opponent admits that there are a few categories where the Rangers outperformed Chicago in the regular season, and judging by my stats and reasoning, the Rangers have also outperformed Chicago in the playoffs, showing that the Rangers are (slightly) better than the Chicago Blackhawks.